Obituary of Esther M. Swanker
Esther M. Swanker, 90, of The Glen Eddy, Niskayuna, passed away on January 4, 2018 at her home after a short illness.
Esther was born in Syracuse, New York, the daughter of the late Alice Cash Morey and Arthur Morey. A 1945 graduate of Nott Terrace High School, Esther went on to receive her B.A. from Syracuse University and her M.S. from the State University of New York at Albany.
Esther began her career with the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., of which she was a lifetime member. She then worked as a technical writer and editor for General Electric, before becoming a school librarian. In 1965, Esther accepted an appointment to the New York State Education Department and was named Deputy Commissioner two years later. In 1971, Esther formed Donovan-Swanker Associates for Research in Education and consulted on educational matters until she was appointed by Governor Hugh L. Carey to the position of Special Assistant to the Governor in 1975. In 1977, Esther planned, organized, and directed the first “I Love NY” fall festival. Esther served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and the White House Conference on Libraries. Following her special appointment, Esther worked for the New York State Department of Transportation where she served as Assistant Commissioner for Human Resources. In this position, Esther created and implemented cutting edge programs, including establishment of a child care facility and an employee assistance program. She retired from government service in 1984.
Esther then devoted her abilities and energy to the Schenectady community, serving on boards, often in leadership positions. She served with enthusiasm and was project minded, spearheading fund raising and building projects for the Schenectady County Public Library; The Mohawk Valley Library Foundation; Ellis Medicine and the Ellis Medicine Foundation; The Dominican Retreat House; Our Lady of Fatima, now known as St. Kateri Tekakwitha; Girl Scouts, Mohawk Pathways Council; and MiSci Museum of Innovation and Science. Notably, she chaired the board of the Schenectady Public Library that oversaw the most recent renovations to the downtown library, she was “Clerk of the Works” for the building project at Our Lady of Fatima, now known as the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, and she founded the Girl Scout’s “Riverwalk” along the Mohawk River. She received many awards and honors for her work. In 2013, Esther was named a Schenectady Patroon, an honor that was especially dear to her. In addition to Girl Scouts, Esther was a proud member of the American Library Association and the New York Library Association.
Esther was predeceased by her beloved husband of 55 years, Henry J. Swanker, and her brothers, Charles Morey and Clark Morey. She is survived by her niece, Cynthia Peebles, her nephew, Todd Morey, her sister-in-law, Charlotte Morey, and several great nieces and nephews, as well as many dear friends. Special thanks to the staff at Ellis Medicine, the Ellis Medicine Foundation, and Hospice for their care and support during Esther’s final illness.
Friends are invited to attend a Memorial Mass on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 10 a.m. at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish on Rosa Road. At a later date, entombment will follow at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to an organization that Esther supported during her remarkable lifetime.